JA Entertainment, Kyta Productions and Zee International Studios present “Parmanu”

Produced by: John Abraham

Directed by; Abhishek Sharma

Written by: Saiwyn Quadros, Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh & Abhishek Sharma

Music: Sachin-Jigar with additional song by Jeet Gannguli

Starring: John Abraham, Boman Irani, Diana Penty, Anuja Sathe, Aditya Hitkari, Yogendra Tikku, Vikas Kumar, Darshan Pandya, Zachary Coffin, Mark Bennington, Abhiroy Singh, Ajay Shanker, Master Arush Nand & others

Here is a fictional story inspired by a real one, but the blend is so gripping that after a good amount of time, in a HINDI movie, our chest swells with patriotic pride – “Sarfarosh” (1999) and “A Wednesday!” (2008) were the last two films that had this impact on this writer.

There is no Pakistan-bashing, no jingoism, but there is a fervor, and emotional connect for an Indian that was missing in last week’s “Raazi.” The enemy powers here are not just Pakistan and China, but also the watchdog that was then another ally of Pakistan – the 1000 nuclear blasts-old USA. With China also exploding 45 nuclear bombs, and the Soviet Union disintegrating, the world was set to take India for granted in the mid-‘90s.

Civil servant and researcher Ashwath (John Abraham) has a solution, as a minister and his council deliberate on the situation in 1995: that India also becomes a nuclear power. His plan is not followed in full, and the 1995 explosion fails. What’s more, America censures us and takes action via strict sanctions.

Ashwath is made the scapegoat though it is the minister’s blunder by implementing it incompletely and he leaves the job, taking up a simple life as an IAS (Indian Administrative Officer) students’ tutor in far-off Musssorie, while his wife Sushma (Anuja Sathe) works as an astrophysicist in an observatory. They also have a son, Prahlad (Arush Nand). Ashwath’s father has been a dedicated solider, and he is itching to do something significant for the nation.

When the government changes in 1998, the new Prime Minister and his principal secretary Himanshu Sharma (Boman Irani) summon Ashwath with a ruse and ask him to revive the mission. Ashwath tells Himanshu what had gone wrong, and how to correct the blunders and prevent American satellites from detecting their preparation for a nuclear test.

Taking references from the “Mahabharat” wherein five Pandavas and Lord Krishna won against a hundred Kauravas, Ashwath assembles a crack five-member team with code names from the epic. They are Ambalika (Diana Penty), Dr. Viraf Wadia (Aditya Hitkari), Dr. Naresh Sinha (Yogendra Tiku), Major Prem Singh (Vikas Kumar) and one more member.

The location is the same: Pokhran, but the approach now is strategic and shrewd, The time of action is the brief hour-long daily pause in satellite surveillance, and the team has got a month.

A Pakistani agent (Darshan Pandya) and his American spy (Mark Bennington) based in Pokhran suspect a rat but cannot prove anything. But the road to success is fraught with obstacles, in one case, involving Ashwath’s family, in another, the political instability of a coalition government, and so on. But these hurdles have to be crossed.

In what is clearly a fictional, highly dramatized and very rousing touch, the edge-of-the-seat countdown begins as the Americans try to contact the President when they realize what is happening. But by then, on May 11, 1998, India joins the nuclear club!

Here is a simply told racy saga that engrosses you from first frame to last, interpolates real footage of happenings, news and of Prime Minister Vajpayee, has its dose of emotions, family life, humor and action and makes for compelling viewing. Despite the disclaimer, it is at the same time so real that we only feel, repeatedly, a surge of pride for being Indian and for the army of real scientists and engineers as well as our Armed Forces who made a seemingly impossible dream and mission a reality.

Technically adept, we must commend Rameshwar S. Bhagat’s editing and Sandeep Chowta’s mood-inducing yet unobtrusive music score. The songs are in synch with the subject, though not the stuff of which memorabilia is made. Director Abhishek Sharma more than makes up for his twin disasters “The Shaukeens” and “Tere Bin Laden Dead Or Alive” with this first-class thriller that also shows how good political leaders can be excellent motivators and facilitators in the crucial and visionary matter of India’s defence and its status in the world.

John Abraham’s best production since “Vicky Donor” also has a nuanced performance from him, especially in his times of frustration in the beginning. Boman Irani, as Himanshu, is effortless, in fact, incredible in a stunningly natural essay. Diana Penty is efficient in her limited role, and in the “nuclear team” Aditya Hitkari, YogendraTiku and Vikas Kumar all stand out.

A brilliant turn comes from Anuja Sathe as Ashwath’s harangued wife. We would like to see more of this lady in Hindi cinema.

Here is a motion picture where we know the beginning and what the end will be, but the journey is made enthralling, and invigoratingly elevating, thanks also to the taut script by Saiwyn Quadras, Sanyuktha Chawla and Abhishek Sharma . Go for it! 

Rating: ****1/2

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